History of the Women’s Rights Movement #2

Following the first women’s rights convention, the Declaration of Sentiments and 12 resolutions received unanimous endorsement, with only a few amendments. The call for women’s enfranchisement was the only resolution that didn’t pass unanimously. That women should be allowed to vote in elections was not conceivable to many. Heated debate over the woman’s vote filled the air.

Not until Frederick Douglass, the noted Black abolitionist started to speak, did the uproar subside. Woman, like the slave, he argued, had the right to liberty. “Suffrage,” he asserted, “is the power to choose rulers and make laws, and the right by which all others are secured.” In the end, the resolution won enough votes to carry, but by a bare majority.

The Declaration of Sentiments ended on a note of complete realism “In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to affect our object.

Newspaper editors were so offended by the boldness of the Declaration of Sentiments, and particularly of the ninth resolution — women demanding the vote!—that they attacked the women with hostility. The women’s rights movement was only one day old and the backlash had already begun!

Source: History of the Women’s Rights Movement #2
© National Women's History Project

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